Keep your friends close, your cashiers closer


The life of a cashier is full of small nuisances – crooked nametags, polyester polos, the ever-present filth of money on your fingertips and the frequent hand-washing it necessitates.

But the worst part of being a cashier is the reason the job exists in the first place: customers.

I only have one summer cashiering at an office supply store under my belt, and it was more than enough to pick up crucial customer etiquette.

First off, bear in mind that cashiers do not set the prices. Yes, we know that goods are outrageously expensive. Yes, we know that times are tough. But if yelling at me slashed prices or boosted the economy, Hermitage, Pa. would look like Gatsby’s mansion.

Your yelling only succeeds in upsetting me – and making me seriously consider poking a small hole in your heavy plastic bag.

When you inevitably break down and pay, please don’t use a check. It’s 2013. Checks take several minutes to write and several more to process, and in that amount of time four other customers have gotten in line. They’re sighing and making a big show of looking for another open register. They’re judging you. Normally I’d suggest people take their judgment and shove it sideways up their rear end, but in this case they’re right.

To those who have embraced the 21st century, bravo. Be prepared to operate a pin pad. Customers often grow annoyed by the little machine and its questions. Is the total correct? Do you want cash back? Not exactly million-dollar questions. Besides, the cashier has nothing to do with the credit card machine. So if you have any grievances, take them up with the manufacturer. Or pay cash.

If you’re a couponer, tell the cashier before you pay. A woman once handed me her coupons after her items were bagged, her card swiped and the receipt printed. I expected John Quinones to stroll around the corner any minute, telling me the whole encounter was staged.

Needless to say, John never showed up, and the situation was less “What Would You Do?” and more “Saw”-level torture scene.

I’m hardly exaggerating. Try redoing a $160 order during back-to-school season only to discover that the 50 cent coupons were expired.

Another fact to remember: Whatever joke you’re about to make, I’ve already heard it. The most overused line comes when an item won’t scan. I’m waving the barcode back and forth under the reader to no avail, and the customer can’t help but say, “So I guess that means it’s free?”

No, Seinfeld, it means I have to manually enter the UPC. Take your act elsewhere.

Really, it isn’t a major infraction. If the worst thing you do to your cashier is make a corny joke, you’re a top-notch human being compared to most. Nevertheless, try to imagine the feeling you would get if you’d been at work for seven hours and somebody said something to you for the 10th time. That feeling is a cross between overwhelming frustration and utter defeat.

I could write a “Harry Potter”-length book on what customers should and shouldn’t do to cashiers, but I doubt they’d read it. After all, they barely read the pin pad.




[email protected]